For­mer PM’s voice on NAFTA wel­come in Wash­ing­ton

The Western Star - - Canada -

OT­TAWA — The Con­ser­va­tive for­eign af­fairs critic says for­mer prime min­is­ter Stephen Harper’s ap­pear­ance in Wash­ing­ton today could help keep pres­sure on the Trump White House to pre­serve the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment. Erin O’Toole says Harper’s is an ar­dent free trader whose voice will help con­vince con­gres­sional and busi­ness lead­ers to pre­serve and up­date NAFTA, rather than tear it up, as Don­ald Trump has re­peat­edly threat­ened.

It also doesn’t hurt that Harper will be shar­ing a stage with for­mer Repub­li­can House speaker Newt Gin­grich, who was ar­guably the pre-Trump era’s most right-lean­ing Amer­i­can pop­ulist politi­cian. Other prom­i­nent Cana­dian con­ser­va­tives have pub­licly aligned them­selves with Trudeau Lib­er­als in a bi­par­ti­san ef­fort to pre­serve Canada’s open trad­ing re­la­tion­ship with the United States.

They in­clude Rona Am­brose, the for­mer in­terim Con­ser­va­tive leader, and for­mer Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive prime min­is­ter Brian Mul­roney, who gave an un­prece­dented brief­ing to Trudeau’s cabi­net on Trump, who is a friend. Harper, who lost a long, hard-fought cam­paign to Trudeau in 2015, has kept a lower pro­file since then.

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